Meet Jonquil Bandy, An “Ask Me” Guy

img_5858.jpg You see them everywhere. And they seem to know everything. But who are they? I spotted Jonquil Bandy in his unmistakable yellow “Ask Me” uniform at the top of the escalators in the Convention Center. “Ma'am, do you have a badge?” he called out. Jonquil is 19. He applied for the job as an “Ask Me” guy when someone handed him a flyer on the street. After a five-an-a-half-hour training session, he could tell you just about anything you’d want to know about the Convention Center and its surroundings. “Has any question stumped you?” I asked. “No, not yet,” he said. Jonquil graduated from high school two years ago. Since then, the South Philly native has applied for jobs at Wendy’s, CVS, Toys "R" Us, UPS, Modell’s Sporting Goods, BJ’s grocery store, Shop Rite, and ACME Grocery (those are just the ones he can remember). He’s even applied for a maintenance position at Children’s Hospital and for a job as a baggage handler for Southwest Airlines. “It seems like a diploma ain’t enough for a job no more,” he said. Luckily, he got a call back from UPS recently, and he’ll start there in a couple of weeks. img_5870.jpg When Jonquil smiles, the tall lanky young adult reveals a mouthful of braces. He makes $9.00 an hour at his “Ask Me” job. Between last Friday and this Thursday, he’ll work a total of 42.5 hours, not including overtime. He expects to make almost $300 after taxes are taken out. He’ll use part of his earnings to help his 63-year-old grandmother, who takes care of him and his brother, pay her bills and buy groceries. The rest of his paycheck will go toward clothes for his new job at UPS. If there’s anything left over, he’ll save it for community college, which he plans to attend in the spring. He wants to major in architectural design and math.


“Do you like this job?” I asked him of his current post. “I’m learning communication skills,” he said. "It's not boring at all." When asked, Jonquil admits that he had never heard of ACS before this job. And he hadn’t heard of Project SEED until I told him about it. Asked whether he would like to attend an ACS meeting one day, he replied, “I wouldn’t mind because I could learn new stuff.” I asked him whether he’d be open to talking about chemistry with a meeting attendee. "Yeah, after work I would," he said. "But right now I can’t because I have to keep the talking to a minimum. I need to focus on my job." ------ Later that day ... I ran into ACS past-president Eli Pearce and told him about my encounter with Jonquil Bandy. “That’s interesting,” Pearce said. Pearce suggested having a free breakfast for the “Ask Me” folks and other local service providers before their day begins and talking to them about chemistry. Then we could offer them a free pass to attend the meeting after they get off work, he suggested. If you have other ideas for how we can give locals from our hosting city an opportunity to learn about chemistry, give this blog a shout. img_5846.jpg

Author: Linda Wang

Associate Editor, Chemical & Engineering News

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1 Comment

  1. Wow, that’s really interesting. I think it’s a great idea. I love the idea of community outreach by scientists. I even have an old book, Chemical Magic, that I hope one day I can use to demonstrate chemistry to adults and children alike.